U.S. praises Thai solid progress on child labor

pix3The United States has heaped praise on Thailand for its solid progress in working to end the worst forms of child labor, in a report released last week by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Thailand was placed in the “significant advancement” category – the highest category – by the Department of Labor in its Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor Report 2014. Only 13 of 140 countries performed well enough to be ranked in that category.

“Despite political unrest during the year and a military coup in May 2014, the government took actions to address child labor. Thailand made changes to its legal framework to raise the minimum age for agricultural work from 13 to 15 years, and for work on sea fishing vessels from 16 to 18 years,’’ the Department noted, also mentioning several other steps taken by the government.

The Department cited changed that have been taken by the current Thai government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. The Prayut administration has been tackling several serious problems long neglected by previous governments, democratically elected and otherwise. They include airline and air traffic safety, human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. These are in addition to attempts at wide ranging reforms in several sectors of society, such as education and the bureaucracy, and the drafting of a new constitution.

Thailand has been making gradual advances in child protection since the 1990s, but progress has recently picked up pace.

The report also said that the Thai government “created a national policy committee, including several subcommittees and task forces, to improve policy formulation, interagency coordination, and implementation regarding migrant workers and human-trafficking problems.

“The government funded and participated in multiple programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms,” it said.

Thailand also implemented social programs that aimed to increase access to education for children from marginalized groups who are most vulnerable to labor exploitation, according to the report.

Room for improvement, however, does remain. Despite government efforts, some children are still being used as laborers in agriculture and seafood processing. Children can be found in the commercial sex industry, although it has become much more rare as several successive governments have worked to eliminate this scourge, along with civil society groups.

Children of migrants from neighboring countries are also an area of concern. They have at times been denied access to health and education to which they are entitled, and end up as laborers.



Thailand Focus October 5th, 2015
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